The unrest in Bangladesh was pre-planned and aimed at destroying the country’s communal harmony, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said on Sunday, according to The Dhaka Tribune.

Bangladesh has witnessed a spell of violence over the last few days. Clashes had erupted in Chandpur district on Wednesday following social media posts about the alleged desecration of the Quran in a Durga Puja pandal in Comilla district.

Violence was also reported from Chattogram, Kurigram and Moulvibazar districts as mobs allegedly vandalised temples and idols of Hindu deities. On Friday, a temple in Noakhali, belonging to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, a Hindu religious organisation, was attacked by a mob. A devotee was killed in the incident.

On Saturday, at least 40 people were injured in Bangladesh’s Feni city after an attack on people protesting against the vandalism of Durga Puja venues in the country.

Religious group and non-governmental organisations have been protesting against the violence and demanding action against the perpetrators.

Bangladesh’s home minister said on Sunday that it seemed the unrest was instigated by a “vested group”, The Dhaka Tribune reported. “Those who were involved in it will be given exemplary punishment,” he said.

Khan added: “The people of Bangladesh are religious but not fanatics. We never allowed militancy and terrorism on the soil of Bangladesh. We contained militancy and terrorism through united efforts.”

Bangladesh Nationalist Party, a key opposition party in the country, blamed the communal violence on the “indifference of law enforcers”, The Dhaka Tribune reported.

“Law enforcement agencies have played the role of silent spectators all along,” the party’s secretary Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir alleged. “These incidents have happened with government patronage,” he said.

The Bangladesh home minister dismissed the accusations. “These statements are not made based on the facts,” Khan said.

Meanwhile, the Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council, a non-governmental organisation working to protect the rights of religious minorities of Bangladesh, said it would begin a hunger strike from October 23.

The Muslim community in Bangladesh is also protesting against the alleged desecration of Quran.

“We ask the government to arrest those who defamed the Quran by putting it at the feet of an idol in Comilla,” the president of Bangladesh’s Islami Movement, Mosaddek Billah Al Madani, told AP on Saturday.